Cemetery Horticulture

Do not cut what you don’t know! Preserve cultural plantings and save habitat. Many meaningful plants, especially ‘antique roses’ and lilies, are mainly found in older, historical cemeteries. Few cemeteries encourage people to put plants in the cemeteries. Some plants get overgrown and cover up not only the headstones, but everywhere around it. Before planting in the cemetery where your family has space, ask permission of those in charge. Perhaps they have a master plan for beautification, but if not, organize to help them have one.

Hummingbirds and butterflies in any garden are an added treat. No less in a cemetery.

Bright colored artificial flowers at the cemetery can cause harm as the hummingbirds and butterflies will spend hours, using up their energy, going from artificial flower to another with no hope of substance.

Instead, plan for natural nectar. Natural nectar sources for both include: Turk’s cap, hamellia, shrimp plant, fire spike, salvia, lobelia (cardinal flower), Mexican oregano, Pride of Barbados, anisacanthus, and cigar plants. These are all magnets. 

And of course, a water source is important if it can be provided.

To identify existing plant material, contact local garden clubs and horticultural organizations and ask for their help. In addition, the Master Gardener program through the extension office of Texas A&M University is an invaluable resource for plant identification.

County Master Gardener groups may be able to give advice on current or future plantings and may be a source of volunteers. County Master Gardener Coordinators can be found at Harris County Master Gardeners. You’ll find an online Urban Dirt Newsletter, plant sales, useful links, etc.

Plant nurseries, especially those like The Antique Rose Emporium at Brenham, Texas can offer selective, expert advice, or The Arbor Gate at Tomball, Texas. (search online for others)
The first "garden cemetery" in the United States was Mount Auburn at Cambridge, which was laid out in the 1830s by members of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Like a vast public park but with people buried in it, it became a popular spot for leisure outings. Cemeteries with a mixing of monuments with attractive landscapes, to include ponds, walkways, woodlands and wildlife, are often managed by nonprofit care groups. Another representative of this type of cemetery is Old City Cemetery at Lynchburg, Virginia. Harris County’s representative of this type of cemetery is Glenwood.

Wildflower Seeds for Cemeteries

A recent visit (9/8/2012) to the Mercer Arboretum & Botanical Gardens I was fortunate enough to be on a tour given by Director Darrin Duling. Located in Harris County Precinct 4 (R. Jack Cagle, Commissioner), What a hidden secret! Located at 22306 Aldine-Westfield Road, Humble, TX 77338  (281.443-8731).

While on the tour we saw an area that had been seeded with a wildflower mix that blooms most of the year. Especially for cemeteries in suburban areas with open ditches, this may be a good plan to follow to not only beautify those ditches and possibly other areas, but also eliminate the cost and time of mowing.   Mercer’s wildflower mix came from a company called BWI, and the seed is Wf051 wild flower mix. Fifteen one-pound units covers a little over one acre.

100 North Main
Schulenburg, TX 78956
Phone: 979-743-4581  Toll Free: 1. 800-460-9713

Texas Bluebonnet Seed Company
7765 FM 1696 
Bedia TX 77831
Phone: 936-395-0308 
Email: info@texasbluebonnetseeds.com
Web Site: http://www.texasbluebonnetseeds.com/

Wildseed Farms (Click on Regional Mixes)
100 Legacy Drive
Fredericksburg TX 78624
Phone: 1.800-848-0078 
Web Site: http://www.wildseedfarms.com/

Native American Seed
Junction, Texas 76849  
Phone: 1.800-728-4043
Email: info@seedsource.com       
Web Site: http://www.seedsource.com/

The Horticulture Program, Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
Has some great growing  information and suggestions on their website at

The National Museum of Funeral History  http://www.nmfh.org/
415 Barren Springs Drive Houston, TX 77090-5918.  281-876-3063

Cemetery Horticulture